Gotham Has Learnt To Love Napier, And So Have We – Reviewing Batman: White Knight #8

by Oliver MacNamee

What a series and what a final issue, leaving me one very satisfied reader by the end of it all. Batman: White Knight has been a great reinterpretation of the Batman mythos imagining a Jack Napier just about keeping his demons at bay, but in the end – as we would have predicted given the many examples of foreshadowing we’ve seen in this series – the Joker won out. Or did he?

As much as this has been a book about The Joker and his redemption, it has also swung a spotlight onto the love of his Harley, who has more to do with this than you might first have thought, as well as other members of the Batman extended family. But, first and foremost, this is a book about redemption, rekindled love and, dare I say it, hope for the future too. For Batman, for Gotham and for Harley.

Batman bows to the will of The Joker to tackle the threat of Neo-Joker, with nothing left in his bag of toys, and The Joker doesn’t disappoint. This is a huge scale, big ass finale that sees the various bat vehicles zip, zoom and skid across the pages in an action packed issue that would make one Hell of a great ending to any film version of such a saga. Like the chase scenes in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight but times 100. Its a thrilling, explosive issue with an emotional centre.

Napier finds just enough inner strength and conviction to pull away from the Clown Prince of Crime’s vice-like grip, but only momentarily. There may well be a happy ending for most characters, but not for Jack. And, if you don’t find a lump rising in your throat, you’re better than the Joker. This is a story that I was willing to be different in its inevitability. Gotham has learnt to love Napier, and so have we. That’s what makes this tragic story so powerful. We were rooting for Jack, even when Batman wasn’t!

This is some hardcore Shakespearian tragedy stuff going on here. Breaking Bad was famously compared to Macbeth because they took a decent guy and turned into an evil crime lord. Well, Sean Murphy takes a mad, bad and dangerous to know criminal and give him a ray of hope, only to snatch it away from him at the last minute. He takes a bad guy, makes him good, only to turn him not the creep we all know and ‘love’. Seems even in an alternative reality, The Joker will out!

As for the artwork? Well, what can I say that I haven’t said already? Moody, mirky (thanks to colourists, Matt Hollingsworth) and putting the ‘Goth’ firmly into Gotham, this is a city that you’d really have to love to try and save it. And, halfway through 2018, it’s still one of the best series there’s been this year, so far, and I can already imagine the accolades and awards it’s going to inevitably pick up come awards season. Hell, it’s certainly got my vote!

Batman: White Knight #8 is currently available from DC Comics.